‘My portrait is priceless’: The view from the Wisconsin cabin

By Ron Weber and Sarah Hopefl | September 14, 2023

  • The view of Lake Namakagon and the dock from Ron Weber's cabin near Cable, Wisconsin. (Photo by Ron Weber)

The view of Lake Namakagon and the dock from Ron Weber's cabin near Cable, Wisconsin. (Photo by Ron Weber)

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Many of us have that special spot in our homes where we feel at peace. Maybe it’s when you park it on the couch, sit down at the sewing table or immerse yourself in the food pantry. For writer Ron Weber, it’s when he’s standing in front of a window in his cabin.


It is a view not unlike thousands of others from waterfront homes or cabins in Wisconsin. This particular view, however, is special only in that it has been my view from the kitchen window of our cabin on the shore of Lake Namakagon near Cable since I was nine years old.

As I look out the window to the south, the eyes come to rest on a spruce laden island with a lone, towering white pine on its northern tip. This pine is a beacon for boaters traversing this part of the lake, like a lighthouse guiding them to the narrows which leads to another basin of the lake.

In the center of my view is the dock, a rustic wood deck resting on a trim aluminum frame complete with a couple old tires at the end to act as a cushion when a boat is tied up there. It is the only dock I have known. Though most other cabin owners on the lake have gone to more gaudy and modern looking docks, I have no intention of replacing ours. On things like that I always rely on the wisdom behind the old axiom, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

To the west lies an expanse of shoreline lined with hemlock and white pines, as well as a nice mix of hardwoods. This shoreline is actually part of a large island, having circumnavigated around it countless times by boat — though from my vantage point of the kitchen window, I cannot tell. Most of the spring and summer it just looks green. But, when Mother Nature gets in the mood to paint come late September, it is transformed into a beautiful tapestry of crimson, yellow, orange and, of course, the green of the hemlock and pine. Though the beauty is short lived, it is worth the wait and to be honest I am happy that it exists for only a brief time, making it that more special.

I have been blessed with so much that has come to me through this 5 foot by 5 foot pane of glass. Glorious sunsets too numerous to count, no two ever quite the same. The excitement and trepidation of watching summer thunderstorms roll in across the lake. All the ducks that have appeared, first as pairs and eventually broods of little puffs of down following their mother in tow. The eagles which perch in the tall white pines on our shoreline, every once in awhile swooping down to snatch a fish or unsuspecting duck.  Then there was the time an odd, unidentifiable object moving across the lake towards our beach materialized into a black bear which, upon emerging from the lake, shook himself off and ambled down the shoreline.

Through all the changes in my life, all the challenges and triumphs, ups and downs, good times and bad, this view has remained unchanged. It changes only with the seasons or time of day, but neither the decades nor development have been able to blemish it. We all have important people and places in our lives which serve as our rocks. This is one of my most important waypoints, a place to which I can return to reset my compass, to let me know where I am, remind me of where I have been and help give me a bearing as to where I am heading. The only real painting I have done is on houses and sheds, but in my mind’s eye, I have painted a portrait of this view a thousand times. Original Rembrandts may be worth a fortune, but to me, my portrait is priceless.


MUSIC: “Petals” by Mark Kroos

“State Lines” by Novo Amor

Ron Weber

Ron Weber

Ron Weber is a Wisconsin DNR Forester living in Weyerhaeuser. He writes outdoor essays for several Wisconsin publications.
Sarah Hopefl

Sarah Hopefl

Sarah Hopefl is a technical director on WPR’s “Central Time” and a member of the station’s engineering team. She loves Wisconsin for its live music, craft beer, hiking and biking trails.

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